Once a month, we solicit your questions on the official Thief forum, pick five and run them by the devs, who are given five minutes to answer. For this installment, I got a hold of Lead Level Designer Daniel Windfeld Schmidt and we began by tackling something that's been a topic of debate for months:
New Horizon: What about swimming? Have they answered that question yet? Will there be swimming?
Daniel Windfeld Schmidt: If Garrett went swimming, he would probably freeze to death. Pneumonia is no laughing matter in a world without antibiotics. But seriously, most of the game happens inside the City in an "autumn" setting, so water wasn't a big theme for us. It exists mostly as shallow puddles, which cause noise depending on the player's speed when they walk through them.
Brethren: What's a detailed list of what features/abilities/parts of the interface can and cannot be turned off with the Hardcore mode developers talked about back at E3?
Daniel: We will reveal more as we get closer to launch, but we now refer to "hardcore mode" more as a custom difficulty mode. This allows players to customize the game in a number of ways. One of my favorites is the Ironman: if you die, game over. Hey, what is life without a little risk? We even added a "If the enemy detects you, you die" mode. Now combine that with the Ironman... You get the point! Remember, these are extra options especially suited for those who crave a little more challenge.
There is also the possibility to disable Focus and related abilities, as promised. This is in addition to the option to disable specific elements of the UI, like the reaction icons for NPCs. The UI list is pretty extensive, so don't worry, you will be able to get the game just the way you like it.
xlchtloi: Will the game support other playstyles than this pesky ghosting? I mean, officially. I know we will get achievement (or optional objectives or something) for ghosting missions, but will there be one for, let's say, knocking everyone out? Completing mission in less than minute? Not using a load function?
Daniel: Ghosting exists for those who seek that challenge (and with the customization options, you won't have to rely on your own discipline). For everyone else, there are no restrictions on how you play. In fact, for each map we have optional bonus "thieving objectives" which encourage players to try out different things, for example perform aerial takedowns, disable a number of traps, distract guards or use your environment to your advantage... Challenges abound.
Knox140: Some of the upgrades in the preview screenshots seemed very combat-focused. I know it is difficult to have upgrades for stealth that fit in with Garrett already being a master thief, but what stealth upgrades CAN we hope to see?
Daniel: Stealth is vital, and thus we have upgrades (to both gear and Focus) that will help stealthy players. There are things to smooth lockpicking, reduce detectability, minimize footstep and arrow impact sounds, etc. As for Focus abilities, they are mostly stealth-related and can for example improve the player's hearing (hearing footsteps through walls), allow them to see loot further away, and speed up pickpocketing and lockpicking.
razorstealth: You mentioned QTEs in the last Take 5. How are you planning to implement these so that they don't break immersion?
Valerie: Oh, I want to answer that one! I was hoping someone would ask. Easy, we're not implementing them. To begin with, there were very few instances of QTEs in the game; in fact there was only one in that whole hour-long E3 demo. However, given the strong reactions it evoked in the press and the community, it was an easy decision to do away with them entirely. So we're not doing it. No quick time.
There you have it, answers to your questions right from the devs to your eyeballs. To find out even more, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, check out all the videos on YouTube (including many demos and interview in the Media playlist) and join the forum to ask your questions for the next Take 5!